This one is about a hungry 50 year old...

Our birthday is the one time of the year I’m supposed to be filled with happiness and joy, waxing lyrical about our lovely republic and all that appertains.  Thing is, I’m not feeling very optimistic this year.  This year I’m feeling positively…bleh!  So we’re turning 50, then what?  Bah humbug!  I am feeling positively melancholic about my country this year, although in fairness to the motherland, this has more to do with the powers that be, or be not as the case may be, than with her and all her 50 year old fineness, all buxom and what not.  So I will suck it up and find a ray of sunshine in the the gloom that is our current idiot MP’s/langa gova/half-assed AU proclamation BS malaise and shine a light on our more redeeming features as a nation. 

I know I should play you a Kenyan track today, but I’ve been listening to Hugh Masekela this past week and I can’t help but play ’Marketplace’ for you, in keeping with our new found Pan African loyalties (I am resisting the urge to Nkt! someone).  This man is one of the sexiest men to blow a horn this side of the equator.  He is also the consumate performer, the first time I watched him, he was on stage for close to three hours.  It turned out, however, that he was high as a kite, on what looked like a cigarette, but wasn’t, which explains why he went around after the show and hugged the entire audience.  For real.  Ah Bra Hugh, you are a good man!

I see her floating lazily
through the market like a butterfly
I wont forget the day came shining in
Just like the dawn bringing in the rays for that sunshine in Congo...

I give you this year’s list of the 10 things I love about this patch of earth we call home, and because I haven’t had lunch yet, this list may be a bit short on meaningful content, but you try blogging on an empty stomach, and/or mind, see if you can do better…

1.      Molo Lamb
Of course the lists starts with food, just be glad I didn’t stick the sausages on the list again (they are still quite excellent).  Now I’m not sure where the lamb chops I ate last night were from, but because every restaurant I’ve been to claims their lamb is from Molo, I’m going to assume my local butcher sources his from there as well.  In my head, all lamb is Molo lamb, and I will have no discussion on this matter.  What we can discuss is how succulent that meat is; how is it that meat from such a little creature has so much lovely, meaty flavour?  Seriously, how does a wee little thing like that pack such a punch?  What’s that?  You’re an animal rights type, are you?  Oops.  Hey, I don’t kill them, I just eat them, and they are so good…

2.      Gibsons AA Coffee
I’ve been drinking coffee since I was a child, thanks to my father who believed that whatever was good enough for him was good enough for his baby girl.  Slight detour, that early injection of caffeine helps explain very many things, no?  I’m just saying, this is probably why I’m a little OCD, I’ve been high all my life.  Detour over.  I was saying, I’ve been drinking coffee for a long time, and I have tried damn near every brand on our shelves, from Kahawa No.1 to bloody Blue Mountain, and let me tell you, Gibsons has blown me away.  I stayed away from it for a couple of years, because, in truth, the packaging is a little dodgy, but once the price of Dormans Arabica crossed 1000 bob, I gave in, because I am only willing to spend so much to feed my addiction(s).  And how glad I am I gave in to my cheaper instincts.  This coffee is the shit!  Try it, if you don’t like it, write me and I will replace it with whatever swill you prefer.

3.      Exotica’s Masala Chips
Forgive me, but I am really hungry.  These are the original masala chips.  Lenga all that rubbish with tomato sauce and garam masala, and make your way to Westlands immediately (I’m hoping they’re still there, haven’t been in a couple of months).  I have tried to replicate these lovelies at home, with no success.  I have tried to bribe the restaurant to give me the recipe, with no success (perhaps if I had offered more than a fifty?).  I’m about to offer them my right boob (that’s the good one).  I’m not kidding.  Screw Coca Cola and their secret formula, this is the only formula I want to know.  Because Exo(tica) is here, and has been for as long as I can remember, that makes them Kenyan, despite the possible expatriation of their (damn near extortionate) profits.

4.      Thika Superhighway
It’s a running joke that you can always spot a Kenyan who’s just landed in a foreign country by the way they gaze at a spaghetti junction, and the unscarred tarmac (free of potholes), and the trains.  Up until 2 years ago, overpasses and underpasses, sijui tunnels and what not, these were things unseen in our part of the world, but these days we’re all so blasé, talking about how you take exit 11 on the highway to get to Safari Park.  Wacheni kuringa, you know you are in complete awe that a road could be so wide, with street lights and lines and everything…

5.      Murithi Mutiga, Fr Gabriel Dolan, Maddo, Tony Mochama and Jackson Biko.
My love affair with the papers seems to be coming to an end, unfortunately, seems I can no longer put up with the never ending obsession with idiot politicians, and the (and I use this term most loosely) editors seeming aversion to spell/grammar check.  That said, I still find myself buying the paper once the weekend rolls around, because a quiet morning just isn’t the same without them.  Mr Mutiga has worked his way into my heart, slowly and steadily, and considering he took the place of Mutuma it has been no easy task.  The tipping point was when he took on Massie whatshisface, anyone who calls that genius out on his BS earns my undying love.  Fr Dolan on the other hand, he should have been on the list last year, because he has always spoken truth to me.  He’s not Kenyan, but with his uncanny ability to speak truth to power, and not call them bad names, he has earned his citizenship, and then some.  And then there’s Maddo.  Do I even need to explain?  And the last 2 gentlemen?  They’ve made getting pissed off each week something to look forward to, and oh how well they push my buttons.  Granted, half the time I worry about Mr Mochama’s love for vodka, and Russia, and Mr Biko has not yet been forgiven for his troubling take on online dating (4 days and he wrote it off?  Come on man…), but despite my reservations, these buggers get me to willingly part with my hard earned money, every weekend.  That deserves a spot on my list, no? 

6.      #KoT
You have to love us Kenyans, our ability to adopt new technology is nothing short of amazing.  Granted, the powers that be can’t seem to tell a bomb detector from a golf ball locator, or figure out how to work the traffic lights at a roundabout, but we, the people, we know things.  Kenyans on Twitter have managed to transform our previously backwater country from hapless minnows to social media heavy weights, pummelling any and all who dare to cross their path.  Now if only they could figure out how to turn it off and get back to the business of living, because no matter how many times you tweet Kenya Power (no longer lighting), my friend, the power will still be off when you’re done.  Now you know.

7.      Victor Wanyama, McDonald Mariga and Dennis Oliech, and all the other ball players out there making a name for themselves.
I’ve gotten used to seeing our athletes trounce their paler competitors (stop frowning, I’m allowed to be racist when it comes to athletics, they do it all the time, talking about our natural ability and such like, because the natives don’t train, do they?  They just get up and run…).  I’ve gotten used to hearing our national anthem being played in arenas whose names I can’t pronounce, time and time again.  But that night when Mariga strode onto the pitch, at Stamford Bridge no less, that was the first time I ever stood up to salute a TV screen, because in all my years, never did I think I would see a Kenyan boy take to the field in a Champions League tie, as a player.  Oliech shoulder to shoulder with Ronaldo?  And Mr Wanyama, oh lovely Victor, running rings around the bloody midgets…  Understand that this isn’t just a football thing, it’s about seeing one of your own reaching heights previously thought unreachable.  It’s like seeing King David feted by Sebastian Coe, or Jason Dunford in the same pool as Michael Phelps, or Kenya beating the All Blacks in Wellington.  Speaking of which…

8.      Kenya 7’s
I’ve learnt to lower my expectations when it comes to the rugby boys, because these gentlemen have been known to be quite special, often losing concentration halfway through the match, which wouldn’t be a problem except for the fact that the game is kinda fast, and those second 7 minutes of meltdown can be quite painful to watch.  But this season, in Wellington?  I bow down.  Messer’s Ambaka and Co., you are superstars in my book, for now, forever.  Now if we could just get KRU to stop their silly bickering long enough for our boys to win the World Cup, that would be most helpful. 

9.      ...

Would you believe I can’t think of two more things?  What kind of amateur list has only 8 items?  Help me out here, please.  Remind me what makes my, our, country such a lovely place to live.

Now because I am a firm believer in the celebration of birthdays, I refuse to let this one slide without sharing two of the best pieces I read last week.  These lovely gentlemen got me thinking about the past we love to hate and the future we hate to interrogate.  Dreams Of My Kenya, 50 Years On, Oyunga Pala’s take on how far we’ve come, and still have to go, is poignant, while Gathara’s The Change Merry-Go-Round is unflinching.  Both are hopeful.  I could say more, but in doing so I would run the risk of over selling that which I have no business selling to begin with. 

Happy 50th my lovelies.